Chef Max, Celebrity Chef and Restauranteur

Photo: Chef Max

( ENSPIRE Feature ) Chef Max on What Goes on in His Kitchen During the Holidays

ENSPIRE Contributor: Sophia Kang

We’re not surprised why The New York Times named Chef Max Hardy one of 16 Black chefs changing food in America. In 2011, he founded One Chef Can 86 Hunger (86 means “end” in chef code), and at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he and a group of local volunteers delivered more than 40,000 meals to the homeless in Detroit, his hometown. After traveling the country and cooking for celebrities like Will Smith, basketball legend Amar’e Stoudemire, John Legend, and the Prince of Dubai, he returned to Detroit to open his second restaurant, COOP Caribbean Fusion, a celebration of his Bahamian roots. 

Chef Max has also worked on cookbooks with Stoudemire (Cooking with Amar’e) and Rohan Marley (The Marley Coffee Cookbook). Last year, he launched a spice line that contains five collections of spice blends (Low Country BBQ, Latin, African, Caribbean, and Everyday) curated for the creative home chef. 

Photo: Chef Max

ENSPIRE spoke with Chef Max Hardy, head chef, and owner of COOP Detroit and JEDs Detroit, about what goes on in his kitchen during the holidays. 

What is your favorite part about cooking for your family and friends during the holidays? 

I really enjoy spending time with my family and cooking for them. The best part is seeing everyone smile. Being able to cook and bring happiness to everyone during the holiday sessions is priceless. 

Do you have a favorite holiday cooking memory? 

Crazy story. When I was about 12 years old, we were making conch salad for the holidays, and my family asked me to help. I was chopping the scotch bonnet peppers and rubbed my eye and went instantly blind for 20 minutes. I had to flush my eyes out and cried like a baby. Lesson learned on touching your face while in the kitchen. 

What are three essential ingredients in your kitchen during the holidays?

My essential ingredients are butter, rum, and garlic. Butter makes everything taste better, and I love to cook with rum; it gives any meal a kick, and of course, I have a taste while I’m cooking.  Garlic goes well with everything. Whether or not it is savory, it is a must-have in your pantry. 

Photo: Chef Max

Read the rest of Chef Max’s interview in the Entertainment and Gift Guide Issue! Get your print or digital copy here.

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